Below are new or updated Internet resources the Hazards Center staff has found informative and useful. For a more complete list of some of the better sites dealing with hazards and disasters, see http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/sites/sites.html.
To be honest, we're rather proud of the many resources and services available from the Natural Hazards Center web site; a lot of time and energy has gone into creating and, especially, maintaining the information there. However, if all those resources prove insufficient to answer your questions about hazards and disasters, the Hazards Center has now added another service to respond to specific requests for information. Just go to the second URL above and send us a question.
Besides the information made possible through our site, the Natural Hazards Center maintains an in-house library and databases of people, programs, organizations, and other sources of hazards/disaster information--including a new database, funded by the Public Entity Risk Institute, of professionals in sustainable disaster recovery. Thus, we should be able to answer your questions or point you in the right direction quickly . . . and at no cost to you. However, if your question requires an extensive database or bibliographic search or lengthy investigation, it would be necessary to charge a fee. Rest assured, however, we will contact you before undertaking such work.
This is the web site of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative (MMI), which includes an on-line "Multi-Hazard Atlas." Users can scan a map of the U.S. and zoom in or out to determine the hazards of a particular location. They can also specify a state, zip code, or congressional district, as well as specific hazards.
The Swiss Reinsurance Company (SwissRe) issues several "Sigma Insurance Research Studies" each year. Study #1 for 2002, entitled Natural Catastrophes and Man-made Disasters in 2001: Man-made Losses Take on a New Dimension, is available from the SwissRe web site. In that report, the company notes that human-caused and natural catastrophes claimed more than 33,000 lives worldwide in 2001 and that the burden on property insurance due to catastrophe losses was extremely high (approximately $34.4 billion), with an estimated $19 billion incurred by property and business interruption losses arising from the events of September 11. Furthermore, the insurance industry must also cover liability and life insurance losses related to the attack, and those are estimated between $16.5 and $39 billion. Meanwhile, the estimated death toll for the earthquake in Gujarat, India, alone was 15,000, while about 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11.
According to the study, 2001 would have gone down as an average loss year had it not been for September 11. However, this event confronted the insurance industry with an entirely new loss dimension. Until 2001 only natural catastrophes such as Hurricane Andrew, which resulted in losses of $20.2 billion, or the Northridge earthquake, which resulted in losses of $16.7 billion (at 2001 prices) had caused losses of this magnitude. The terrorist attack has exposed a new dimension of threat to the insurance industry, bringing up a number of questions regarding terrorism coverage.
To read the entire report, available in several different languages, see the web site above, click on "Research," then on "Sigma Insurance Research." Several other reports on natural hazard risks are available.
Heritage Preservation is an organization that works to ensure the perpetuation of America's collective history and culture. One of its programs is the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, which helps individuals and institutions protect their collections in times of disaster. Its "Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel," an informational tool used by archives, museums, and libraries across the country, is now available in Spanish. For details about the work of the task force or about obtaining a wheel, see the web site above, or contact Heritage Preservation, 1730 K Street, N.W., Suite 566, Washington, DC 20006-3836; (202) 634-1422; fax: (202) 634-1435.
The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), operated by Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), disseminates information and guidance regarding appropriate international disaster relief. The CIDI web site offers guidelines, situation reports, a register through which commodities and technical assistance can be offered, general information about international disaster response, and current news about CIDI and its activities.
At these URLs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has posted two Annual Program Statements that will be of interest to the larger hazards community: Enhanced Disaster Preparedness in South Asia: Through Community-Based and Regional Approaches and Climate Forecast Applications for Disaster Mitigation in Asia.
This web site allows scholars to enter the details of any publications, papers, or presentations they might want others to know about, particularly works that are not indexed elsewhere, such as book chapters and conference papers. In its one year of existence, scholars from a wide variety of disciplines have added a great deal of content, including information about many publications on hazards and disasters. The result is an extremely powerful--and growing--academic search engine that also functions as an academic directory.
The purpose of the Disaster & Social Crisis Research Network (D&SCRN) is to promote the study, research, and analysis of natural, technological, and social disasters "with a view to contributing to the development of disaster-resilient European communities and preventing or mitigating the human, economic, social, cultural, and psychological effects of disasters." The network intends to achieve its scientific and social policy goals through the organization of sessions during the biannual conferences of the European Sociological Association, the convening of interim conferences and sessions at other meetings, the publication of an electronic newsletter, and the establishment of this web page. For more information, a list of members, and a copy of the network's latest newsletter, see the URL above.
In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Northern California Chapter has launched "Quake '06"--a four-year campaign to reduce earthquake risk in the San Francisco Bay area intended for professionals, the media, and the general public (see the previous Observer, Vol. XXVI, No. 5, p. 9). Co-sponsored by many concerned California public and private organizations, and involving 150 volunteer earthquake professionals, Quake '06 will be the largest citizen-based campaign ever launched in the U.S. to mitigate seismic risks. The primary message of the campaign is that most potential earthquake losses are manageable or avoidable, and a key strategy will be to spotlight how specific communities and other entities have successfully taken steps to reduce their risk. The campaign will then work with a broad range of groups to implement "best practices" on a wider scale. For more information about Quake '06 see the new web site above.
As we've noted before, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in California maintains an excellent web site with information regarding the many hazards affecting the Bay Area. The site focuses on earthquakes, of course, and includes a facility for generating ground shaking maps for a given location and quake magnitude. However, the site also covers other natural hazards. For an example of a new addition to the earthquake section, see the second URL above--a page on traffic and automobile problems that could arise during and following a quake. It includes a PDF file, available in English, Spanish, and Chinese, that can be used as a template for a guide regarding automobile earthquake preparedness.
This new web site of the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF), an organization of global wildland fire professionals, provides membership information, lists of upcoming events (see the Conferences and Training section of this Observer), and full-text reports and other documents, including Wildfire magazine and the Journal of Wildland Fire.
Floods and Drought
In preparation for the Third World Water Forum to be held next March in Japan (see the Conferences section of this Observer), the organizers have established a "Virtual Water Forum" at the above URL to initiate preliminary discussions about the numerous topics that will be covered at the meeting. Many issues are addressed, including flood, drought, and the effects of climate change on these two hazards. To join the discussion, see the web site above.
The National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) produces a map that shows flood potential for the contiguous 48 states. Updated daily at 4 p.m., this five-day outlook provides an entry point for users seeking more detailed hydrologic information provided by the NWS's regional River Forecast Centers and Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). Official flood forecasts and warnings will continue to be issued by WFOs. At the second URL above, the HPC issues an excessive rainfall potential outlook. Areas identified on this map indicate locations where rainfall rates are forecast to exceed flash flood rates.
El Niņo and Climate Change
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) are now issuing regular "El Niņo Outlooks" for the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Natural Disaster Reduction. See the U.N. ISDR regional site above for the latest outlook.
That site also offers several new documents including the ISDR's recently published Review of Disaster Reduction Trends in the Americas, Natural Disasters and Sustainable Development: Understanding the Links Between Development, Environment and Natural Disasters, the latest issue of ISDR Informs--Latin America and the Caribbean, Guidelines for Producing a Community Risk Map, and Lessons Learned from the 2001 El Salvador Earthquakes, Education and Human Settlements.
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit, international organization that supports social science research, education, and scholarly exchange. The council has established this web site, entitled "Perspectives from the Social Sciences," to disseminate a still-expanding collection of essays by leading social scientists from around the world regarding the events of September 11, their precursors, and subsequent terrorist attacks. These essays represent efforts by social scientists to bring theoretical and empirical knowledge to bear on those tragic events. The pieces are intended as resources for teachers--especially college and university instructors--who want to address the unfolding events in their courses. But they are also intended "for all of us who seek deeper understanding in these troubling times."
The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) now offers several publications via http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/docs, including Critical Incident Protocol: A Public and Private Partnership, developed by Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice for the ODP. The document discusses how public and private institutions can (indeed, must) work together to assess risks, plan, and practice for emergencies, as well as develop mitigation measures to reduce impacts.
Professor Louis Geschwindner of Pennsylvania State University assembled this site in order to bring together many of the web articles that deal with the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon tragedies. Although the articles focus on physical aspects of the WTC before, during, and after collapse, the site also includes sections covering Building Conditions Around the WTC Site; WTC Site Clean-up; Occupancy of the WTC; Structural Investigation Teams; the Pentagon Site; Insurance Industry Response; General Political Information; as well as firsthand reports, numerous images, and other information.
The September 11 terrorist attacks spurred interest in many national security issues. One place to find more information on the subject is the newly updated ANSER Institute for Homeland Security's Internet home page. The nonprofit research organization has added a "What's New?" column highlighting the institute's activities and publications, as well as new, interactive opinion polls. The home page directs readers to sections offering current news articles, library materials, and other resource pages.
The Two Tigers Radiological company has compiled this "definitive homeland security information resource," which includes sections entitled:
- Homeland Security Quick Links (links to relevant federal and state organizations and other resources)
- Nuclear/Radiological Emergencies
- Biological Emergencies
- Chemical Emergencies
- Hazardous Devices, Bombs and Explosive Ordnance Emergencies
- Natural Disasters (with "Instant Answers" to several natural disaster questions)
FEMA's Higher Education Project SeekingContributions for "Practitioner's Corner"
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Higher Education Project is interested in establishing a "Practitioner's Corner" on its web site, http://www.training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/edu. The purpose of this section is to create another means for emergency management professionals to communicate their thoughts and ideas concerning college-level hazard, disaster, and emergency management classes and programs to the educators responsible for those programs. The organizers envision short papers on such subjects as:
- types of competencies that should be emphasized in such courses,
- perspectives on different ways to examine or approach emergency management,
- case studies of disasters,
- lessons learned in bureaucratic politics,
- success stories/failures, and
- public policy issues.
Submissions and questions should be sent to the Higher Education Project Manager, Wayne Blanchard, e-mail: email@example.com. Selected papers will be posted on the Higher Education web site; the project reserves the right to edit content.
[Adapted from the IAEM Bulletin--the newsletter of the International Association of Emergency Managers]
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